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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Archived Title Image No. 10

Some readers found this title image a little distasteful and asked me to take it off. Keeping their sensibilities in mind I'm putting a new one up. Anyway it's been there for almost a month-and-a-half and the replacement with was long overdue. As Sandeepa said I remain the boss of this blog and things around here happen according to my whims and fancies, but once in a while I should heed to readers' concerns (or at least pretend to).

The movie is Madhubala, of course not based on the beauty of the yesteryears (I was and am an adorer) but on the Preeti Jain-Madhur Bhandarkar episode. It was running in one of Connaught Place's (New Delhi) oldest theatres, the landmark Regal, usually described as seedy, in-kempt and exhibiting 'A' rated films. Haven't yet been inside the theatre, but the posters usually attract sufficient attention.

Photographed October 1, 2006.

The description of the present title image will be made available on its retirement.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

In Focus

In Focus

Was a little preoccupied all these days and couldn't visit blogadesh. As things settle down on the professional front, issues of personal importance, like blogging, will follow suit.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Shifting Gears

A sunset for a new sunriseI lasted in my first job for two years two-and-a-half months. This time I'm changing my official address in exactly 10 months. Too soon, some say. But when opportunities come your way, better grab them, with both hands. So what if it entails a 70 kilometre ride every day? My hunt is for satisfaction, which I know I'll never achieve. And that's a good thing.

"Why do you want to leave this job?" the HR Manager asked me in my exit interview. An honest answer would have been, "I don't know." But he wouldn't have understood. Therefore I told him, "the work profile is what I always wanted to do, the salary's higher" and the other standard acceptable reasons. I didn't lie, these were just some of the obvious reasons. There are many other unobvious ones, which even we ourselves cannot comprehend. I said yes, to the offer at hand, because something inside me said yes. Why did it answer in the affirmative, it never gives us the reasons. And I don't argue.

Professionally things are changing, on the blog front I don't see much of a change, unless I try to apply my brushed-up professional skills on the blogosphere; or they tell me that it's either your blog or your job. Since the paapi pet rules, I'll continue with the latter (till the time I find myself a new job, with a fatter pay cheque of course). But that seems unlikely, since my boss' a blogger too.

I wrote this in my last job-switch post, it still holds true and will.

A struggler day entry in my diary (nowadays I only blog) reads, "Some days you are the dog, on others the lamppost. Today I was the lamppost..." Tomorrow too wouldn't be much different. The lamppost remains, the dogs change.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Only Vivian

A 1986 Only Vimal ad featuring the cricketer for whom the word swashbuckling was perhaps coined - Viv Richards, or more appropriately Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century (Don Bradman, Gary Sobers, Jack Hobbs and Shane Warne were the other four. Only Warne was the non-knight in the list). This Antiguan was one of the most fearsome of batsmen, but in this ad he looks a charmer. No wonder Neena Gupta fell for him.

Download video [WMV 580 KB 00:00:30 Stereo 208X160]

When you are looking for the best,
Put the rest to rest.
Now baby I've found a new love,
It's the one everybody is talking of.
It's Only Vimal,
Only Vimal,
Only Vimal.
The looks of a winner.

Can't view the video? Download Windows Media Player

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Real Parliament Attackers Revealed

December 13, 2001. The Indian Parliament is attacked. A dozen dead, including the attackers. Massive deployment of soldiers by India to the border with Pakistan. Relations strained. Many arrests made. Some convicted, others acquitted. One now in death row, seeking clemency.

In five years, a lot has been happening, moving and changing. But inside the highest seat of the world's largest democracy, not much has changed except for the people occupying the treasury and the opposition benches. They termed the December 13 attack as one on Indian democracy. I wouldn't reproduce on this blog what actually were the people's reactions (there's a strong possibility of getting blocked). Everyone knows, or can very easily guess how the common man would have reacted.

Sansad Par HamlaThe most crippling attack on the form of government that this country practices is not from the terrorists or militants from outside, rather it is from the ones inside the House. Every session is an unending assault. This is what cartoonist Neeraj Gupta says through his exhibition 'Sansad Par Hamla' (Attack on Parliament). The exhibition was inaugurated yesterday, by veteran cartoonist Sudhir Tailang at the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, 1 Rafi Marg (Opposite Rail Bhavan), New Delhi 110001. The exhibition is on till Sunday, December 17, 2006 from 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

Neeraj GuptaI know Neeraj (Neerajsir to me) since my university days in Bhopal, where he was a cartoonist with Nava Bharat. He was someone who fitted my visualisation of a cartoonist to the hilt. The other two that I met in flesh and blood were quite different. The great RK Laxman came across as acerbic (maybe because of his age), but not without wit and I didn't believe that Sudhir Tailang was Sudhir Tailang until he drew a caricature of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on my notebook (but Narasimha Rao remains his best), he to me looked quite un-cartoonist like.

Neeraj is jovial man even in the most adverse of circumstances. Someone, who isn't afraid to take risks and face challenges, even if the costs involved are great. One fine day he gave his comfortable job up and landed in the city of dreams, Bombay, in pursuit of his dreams (later also took me along on my very first visit to the city and played a gracious host). When things didn't work out the way he would have liked them to be, he bid adieu to Bombay and landed in Delhi in his tried and tested vocation as a cartoonist with Dainik Jagran. Not very satisfied with the ways of the media, he joined Samsung India Electronics, where he is the Creative Director.

If you happen to visit the exhibition, do chat with him He's interesting to talk to. Makes you feel comfortable.

Here are a few cartoons from the exhibition (tried to translate them for readers who are not comfortable with Hindi, but much might be lost in the process).

Sansad Par Hamla
Hope you remember? Repeated boycotts made me forget the way to the Parliament

Sansad Par Hamla
... and this is an extinct species of a Parliamentary etiquette following MP

Sansad Par Hamla
It is hereby informed that this premises is not for commercial use ... shut your shop from here ... else this place would be sealed. By order - Public

Sansad Par Hamla
Live Telecast

Sansad Par Hamla
Breaking news! Today the Parliament managed to get some work done

Sansad Par Hamla
The Great Indian Comedy Show

Sansad Par Hamla
In our sport steroids are an absolute necessity

Sansad Par Hamla
Walk out

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rubbers of India - II

Boing Boing termed my earlier post on Indian condoms 'bottomless.' Now researchers have 'discovered' that condoms "made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men." Damn! I wrote such a long post and still my brethren fell short.

Almost every newspaper and website has this story. But didn't we know this for long. At least women abroad know better. A few had posed me the question during online chats (no, I wasn't on any of 'those' chat rooms).

Clothing brands had realised this much earlier, only that they are implementing it now. But then it was for the visible portions. For something like a condom, it is just a little difficult. And with samples, however large they are there's always a chance of having it skewed. The suggestion of having different sizes is welcome (in addition to flavours, colours, texture there'll also be a choice between S, M, L, XL and XXL). But like women, many of whom are not aware of their perfect cup sizes (the calculation, like most things female, is a little confusing), it will take some instructions for men to know which category they 'fit in.' Different experts
still have varied opinions on how to go about the measuring exercise.

There's also an online Definitive Penis Size Survey (contains images which might not be safe for work) In case you are interested in an unscientific measurement exercise, which will not require you to drop your pants, try this out (safe for work, requires Flash).

Anyway does size matter (Cliched question, I know that. But the answers are always interesting)?

[Initially thought of not posting about this story, then Shivam sent me a link. Then thought that it might just be my forte and moreover many people were already visiting this blog looking for that story. I don't want to disappoint anyone. The last post had got too long, will post updates on this page, until this too gets bottomless]

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Whacky Shift

Whacky ShiftWhy does it have to be this way, always? And illogically enough it works. Since last afternoon my keyboard was acting funny. The problem was with a combination of the Shift key (both right and left) and certain letters (I just happened to notice that they were all vowels). It just wouldn't work, and for capitalisation, I had to use the caps lock every time. And much later the idea of StickyKeys came (actually, when I was frustratingly pressing the Shift key multiple times).

To find a solution to my problem, I sought Google and read through pages and pages where people discussed their hardware and software problems. No answers anywhere. Thought of doing what the IT guys at office usually do, uninstall and then reinstall. Usually works. Then somewhere down a forum, someone fixed his problem by simply turning the keyboard upside down and giving it a few whacks. I did it and am typing this - AeIoU. Perfect.

By the way, the problem was also because of a few whacks, which I had liberally given the keyboard in the first place to dislodge all the snack that it had gorged over the months. The same principle worked with the little 14" B&W TV that I had in my room back home and also with the 'imported' Chinese music system, which played all from Dylan to Daler. Whack, whack and it's all right. Why did the grownups have unwavering faith in this principle when it came with dealing with the mischievous us?

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Why Letters Reach Late

Letters for Later

Please don't blame India Post.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Real Taste of Life

Some ads have the potential to brighten up a dull day. For some a bar of chocolate is enough. Chocolate to me as a kid, was only Cadbury's (not Cadbury, but Cadbury's), irrespective of the make. Nestle was also Cadbury's, so was Amul. Only Milky Bar wasn't, because of its whiteness. Brown signified Cadbury's and Cadbury ads, happiness.

Oglivy & Mather, as always, did a good job and so did Louis Banks (Kuch Khaas Hain is his favourite amongst the jingles that he created). Shankar Mahadavan and Gary Lawyer also bagged a few awards singing them. Wonderful. And they demand and encore. Television is expensive, but internet is not. Here's reliving all that great Cadbury ads from the years past (never chewed on a whole bar, but preferred to break them into small squares and sucked them).

This ad brings out the kid in us (I was still one, when it was first aired). Bindaas. Cricket and chocolate, kamaal combination. This one's in English, the Hindi version touches the heart deeper. (1994)
Download video [WMV 273 KB 00:00:41 Mono 160X120]
Listen / download audio [MP3 288 KB 00:00:42 56kbps Stereo 44 kHz]

Here's something that we all did at least once in my life (I did it uncountable times), picking up a fallen chocolate piece from the floor, and ensuring that no one is watching you, while you pop it into your mouth. But I'm yet to flung a bar of chocolate at a departed sweetheart, savouring it in agony of departure is much better. (1994)
Download video [WMV 404 KB 00:01:01 Mono 160X120]

Age has nothing to do with spirit. There's kuch khaas (something special) in all of us, at all ages. (1995)
Download video [WMV 400 KB 00:01:03 Mono 160X120]
Listen / download audio [MP3 430 KB 00:01:03 56kbps Stereo 44 kHz]

Now you know from where Cyrus Broacha got all that extra pounds from. He doesn't need any bahana and 'm going to make a chocolate-loving-bakra out of him sometime soon. (1999)
Download video [WMV 285 KB 00:00:40 Mono 160X120]
Listen / download audio [MP3 278 KB 00:00:40 56kbps Stereo 44 kHz]

There are three Cs and an S in neo-journalism. One of the Cs is cricket and 2003 was the year of the World Cup and we also made it to the finals (that the Aussies drubbed us there, is a forgotten story). And Dada was the capt'n (Ganguly is back, yahoo!). Cricket and chocolate, I repeat, is a kamaal combination. Coke doesn't come anywhere close, anyway, the asli desi drink Thums Up and Sprite sell more. (2003)
Download video [WMV 390 KB 00:00:41 Mono 160X120]
Listen / download audio [MP3 392 KB 00:00:57 56kbps Stereo 44 kHz]

You don't need a reason to smile. This ad unfailingly lightens my heart. Khamakha, no reasons, period. (2003)
Download video [WMV 268 KB 00:00:41 Mono 160X120]
Listen / download audio [MP3 285 KB 00:00:41 56kbps Stereo 44 kHz]

Meetha for so long was synonymous with rosogollas. The Dada might not like it, but the bhaiya from the banks of the Ganges at Allahabad is out to redefine the wants of the Indian sweet tooth (I had to get mine extracted sometime ago).

Spent all my school days in one of the rainiest regions of the planet, but never ever got a day off due to rains. Poor me. And never did the school building catch fire despite our heartfelt prayers (even if it did, the rains would have doused it in minutes). (2004)
Download video [WMV 331 KB 00:00:52 Mono 160X120]
Listen / download audio [MP3 356 KB 00:00:52 56kbps Stereo 44 kHz]

Can't view the videos? Download Windows Media Player

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Ting Ting Ti-Ting

Acoustic branding at its best. Wherever we hear that distinctive "Ting ting ti-ting," we invariably think Britannia. Louis Banks, the man who created it, says, "Well, I always say that on my tombstone they should put that four note signature I wrote for Britannia - you know, 'ting ting ti-ting'!"

If you need a ting ting ti-ting of your own, follow the following links to download or listen (you might also use it as a ringtone). It would help if you buy a packet of Tiger Biscuits too. For two reasons, indirect royalty payment and in celebration of Dada's return to the team (the Bong in me just couldn't help it).

* MP3 version [MP3 17.5 KB 00:00:01 128kbps Mono 44 kHz]
* MIDI version [MIDI 268 bytes 00:00:01]

Britannia ads have never been something to go gaga about. Anyway if you happen to be interested, a dozen-and-two TVCs can be found here. And Jazz-man Louis' site has three full-version songs available for free download. Help yourselves.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Better Side of Photography

Better Photography - December 2006"I'm going to tell you a secret: Glamour photography is hypocrisy. It's a subtle, sophisticated, suave, creative, legal, socially, and publicly approved version of porn. It's for the debonair and the creative solutions to make stimulation legal have generated an array of interesting styles."

We all know it. Just that we didn't like to accept it publicly. Tarun Khiwal does it for us in the December issue of Better Photography.

My brother, an avid photographer, brought home those photography magazines. Not much into the nuances of the hobby/profession (the interest developed much later), I simply used to flip through the pages eyeing the luscious models. My favourite was (is) the glamour specials. The December issue of Better Photography usually has an extra dose of glamour (read scantily clad or unclad women. It's always women). Therefore I never find them at the old and second-hand magazine sellers. This year's is less explicit, but for a wannabe photographer like me, the other stuff in there is more than the Rs 60 worth.

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Call Center Cabs to the Rescue

Overcrowded Delhi Blue Line BusThe name National Capital Region (different from NCT) seems to exist only on paper and for the mobile phone networks. Spanning three states, it is just an excuse for incessant traffic jams and inflated property prices. For a poor non-vehicle-owning commuter like me, travelling across the NCR is a pain in the you-know-where. Delhi Transport Corporation buses do not enter Uttar Pradesh and UP no longer plies its vehicles into Delhi. Both sides impounded a number of the other's buses. Things are also not very good down south with Haryana. Delhi registered autorickshaws do not cross the interstate border into Gurgaon and the ones which agree to enter Uttar Pradesh demand a ransom. The overcrowded privately run blue-line buses and the infrequent chartered buses provide little respite.

In this urban chaos, there comes to the rescue an unlikely saviour - the call centre cabs. Infamous for their negligent and rash driving, these cabs are a boon to travellers commuting between Noida, Delhi and Gurgaon. The main motive might be money making in the sly by the drivers, but it also doubles up as 'social service,' providing cheap, fast and comfortable travel in a city which only has the metro rail to boast about in the name of efficient public transport (the high-capacity buses are too few and DTC drivers get their cut from their blue-line competitors for not picking up passengers). Rs 10 for any distance traveled and I like to add a little thank you for the driver, whose 'selfish motive' eases an otherwise arduous journey.

Depending on the size of the vehicle they drive, the drivers make anything between Rs 40-100 a trip. Often the cops demand a tenth-of-a-grand. The driver simply smiles, displaying his tobacco stained teeth, "Soochonga free mein lift de diya (I'll think that I've given a lift for free)."

Well, it was almost free for me. Rs 10 for a smooth ride from Noida to Dhaula Kuan and another tenner for Dhaula Kuan to Gurgaon (a distance of over 40 kilometres) and that too in only an hour's time.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006



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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Value Ad-ition

Tehelka story[My daytime job requires me to write. But I refrain from reproducing it here, on the blog. Primarily because they are two different entities. The me on the blog is quite different from the me in the publications I work for. But the following is different. One, I don't work for this publication. Two, I didn't write this for the greens. Three, this is because of what I do on this blog and it was just an extension on printed paper.

I would also like to thank two people. Shivam who asked me to do this and Shyama Haldar, who I believe did the subbing on the piece (adding a great deal of readability to the original info-clogged crap).

Sub-editing is a thankless job. You have to dirty your hands clearing all the rubbish and rearranging the stuff. Often ending up rewriting the entire thing, only to see the byline reading someone else's name.

A little misspelt surname can always be ignored

Excerpted from Tehelka (Vol. 3 Issue 48. For the week of December 3-9, 2006).

Tehelka story"If the product is good, what do they need to advertise it for?” is the dour sort of question most of us grew up hearing from our elders at home. Regardless of the offence it gave the older generation’s socialist sensibilities, and despite the nationalisation of private entities, advertising in India continued nonetheless to thrive, just as it had done ever since the Irishman James Augustus Hickey published Hickey’s Bengal Gazette, two-and-a-quarter centuries ago. As a six-year-old pouring over Indrajal comics, there’s no way I could have known, or cared, what ads were doing to help keep the price of Phantom, Bahadur and Mandrake in reach. Today, of course, I know better. Advertising gives me free-to-air channels, helps me run a personal space on the Internet for free, provides me with instant e-communication at no explicit cost and gets me newspapers at a price so low I can get a substantial part of it repaid by the raddiwallah.

Tehelka storyUnabashedly, I am one of those people who hordes old magazines and newspaper clippings; under my bed hibernate cartons of half-century-old printed pulp, fraying edges providing tell-tale evidence of well-fed silverfish. Flipping through them, it’s the ads that still arrest: quaint, even rudimentary by today’s glossy standards, yet their appeal not just intact but enhanced by nostalgia’s natural preservatives. Ads, after all, tell stories history tellers might not have thought worth picking up on. In the early years of Indian advertising, till the 1930s, foreign manufacturers used the same advertising here as they did in their home countries. The first Lux-loving Indian film star was featured in 1941 (Leela Chitnis). The Hinglish that purists so despise had made its incursions into advertising lingo by the last quarter of the 19th century. Colour ads entered The Times of India in 1910. Kodak’s revolutionary, “You press the button. We do the rest” inspired this chilling spin-off from G. Edward’s & Co, a Calcutta-based taxidermist: “You shoot!! We do the rest,” to the near-extinction of the national animal.

The complete text can be accessed here.

Click on the links below for a complete newspaper view (complete with select vintage ads).

Page 1: JPEG | PDF

Page 2: JPEG | PDF

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